COLUMBUS – What was a three-headed goaltending carousel for the Capitals just 10 days ago has settled into a more predictable routine much like it was at the start of the season, with Braden Holtby handling the bulk of the workload.
Holtby will make his third consecutive start and sixth appearance in seven games Thursday night as the Capitals visit the Blue Jackets in the first of back-to-back games. The tentative plan is to use Michal Neuvirth, who last played Jan. 24 at New Jersey in the most recent set of back-to-backs, on Friday in Detroit.
“I think that’s what everyone wants is some sort of rhythm,” Holtby said. “At the same time you get into that by focusing on the task at hand the game you’re playing in present day. You don’t worry about starts in the past or starts in the future how frequent or not frequent they come. The biggest thing is you feel a little more comfortable in your pregame preparation.”
After posting a shutout in Montreal, Holtby allowed four goals on 27 shots in the Capitals’ 5-4 overtime win in Buffalo. It wasn’t a perfect outing for the team as a whole, but it will be interesting to see how Holtby fares against a tougher Columbus squad.
On Jan. 17, he allowed two goals on 22 shots in a 38-minute relief outing against the Blue Jackets, who have four lines that can contribute to the scoring.
“They have good speed, every line can skate, every line works hard — by works hard I mean they get on the forecheck, they grind it out and develop scoring chances that way,” Holtby said. “So when you play a team like that you just have to be ready at all times, especially in the ‘D’ zone you know that they might win some puck battles throughout the game. Myself, I just have to be patient and ready for those.”
>> The Capitals will use the same lineup as Tuesday in Buffalo. Aaron Volpatti and Ryan Stoa are the expected healthy scratches; Mikhail Grabovski remains back in D.C. with an injured left ankle.
>> Projected lineups for both teams.
Matt Calvert-Brandon Dubinsky-Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno-Artem Anisimov-R.J. Umberger
Boone Jenner-Ryan Johansen-Nathan Horton
Derek MacKenzie-Mark Letestu-Corey Tropp
Fedor Tyutin-Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray-James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin-Cody Goloubef
Sergei Bobrovsky will start, Curtis McElhinney will back up.